Cabinet to Tackle Offshore Resources as Berri Slams Delay in Appointing Oil Authority Members

The cabinet is expected on Wednesday to tackle the appointment of the six members of the authority tasked with administrating the oil sector, An Nahar newspaper reported.

“It is unacceptable to waste our oil and gas natural resources while Israel is exerting efforts to benefit from it… If the cabinet remained at a standstill I will then take the necessary measure,” Speaker Nabih Berri told the daily.

He revealed that several foreign companies expressed readiness to begin oil exploration procedures.

Berri had continuously threatened to debrief the cabinet if it didn’t carry out its tasks regarding Lebanon’s offshore oil wealth project.

As Safir newspaper reported that the cabinet during its session at the Grand Serail will issue a decree concerning the oil authority members as officials held intensive contacts in an attempt to resolve the obstacles blocking the matter and opening the way to assign the members.

Sources told the daily the presidency of the authority will be rotational.

A minister told al-Joumhouria newspaper that if the cabinet issues the decree during its session on Wednesday, then the appointment of the members will begin by March 15 and would take around 15 days.

In January, the cabinet approved the oil and gas decrees after lengthy discussion over who should administer the tender and oil and gas exploration in its offshore territorial borders.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

The Israeli map conflicts with Lebanon's proposed maritime border. Beirut argues its map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.

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